By RYAN HINES
Last year the quartet of winners in the Western Buckeye League
each lost two games in a rare year where a pair of losses still
kept teams in the WBL title race.
Teams can’t afford to rely on those possibilities again
this year and if that’s the case, then the Elida-Celina
matchup on Friday night is huge for the two Bulldog squads.
Celina entered the year as one of the clear contenders for a
possible WBL crown while Elida has been somewhat of a surprise
team that appears to be in the title hunt now as well through
the first three league contests. Celina will travel to Elida’s
Fieldhouse on Friday with the loser facing an uphill battle
if a title run is still a goal.
“I feel that there’s a lot of tough games left in
the WBL even after this weekend, but we try to make sure that
our team realizes that every Friday night is key if you want
to win in this league,” said Elida head coach Chris Adams.
“There’s numerous teams out there, that when you
begin to prepare for them, you realize that your margin for
error is small. When we face Celina on Friday, we realize that
we have to play at the next level above where we’ve played
Elida’s 8-4 start (2-1 WBL) may surprise some that follow
the WBL after the Allen County Bulldogs lost 80 percent of their
scoring, assists, field-goal attempts and free-throw attempts
to go along with 70 percent of their rebounding from last year’s
“We’ve had some young kids step up and we’re
happy and supportive of the type of effort that our kids are
putting forth every night,” admitted Adams.
Dustin Mathias (6-1, sophomore, guard) is one of the young kids
that has been stepping up for Elida and he has done so on a
consistent basis. Mathias is leading the team in scoring at
15.0 points per game while scoring in double figures in all
games but one.
Mathias does most of his damage from the perimeter as he has
hit 32-of-80 from three-point range (40 percent) while also
adding 4.3 rebounds per game.
Fellow sophomore Aaron Thompson (6-1, guard) has also been a
mainstay for Elida early in the season averaging 7.9 ppg. and
4.8 rpg. while hitting on 20-of-53 three-point attempts.
Balance has become a strength for Elida in recent weeks as Jason
Sarno has come off the bench to score in double figures in the
past three games.
“We have balance on offense but our top scorers are Dustin
and Aaron,” admitted Adams. “Mike Smith (8.4 ppg.)
has been getting better and better and Eli Brooks (10.3 ppg.,
5.5 rpg.) has been putting up big numbers as well at times.”
While balance has been the winning formula for Elida, Celina
continues to be led by Tim Homan who’s averaging 22.3
ppg. The next high-scorer for Celina is Brian Gagle, who checks
in at 7.1 ppg. although the Green and White seven-man rotation
are all averaging over 3.3 ppg.
“I’m really impressed with Tim Homan as a player.
I can tell you one thing, when we’re in our zone, we’ll
know where Homan’s at all the time,” stressed Adams.
“He’s one of the premier players in northwest Ohio
and sometimes gets overshadowed by Jamar Butler (Shawnee star
player). When they’re in big games, it seems that their
role players come up with big shots, rebounds and defensive
stands. The stats may look a little misleading, but Celina is
full of athletes that can hurt a team at any time.”
Adams’ Bulldogs have already proven that they can hold
their own against some of the best teams in the area. Elida
led by nine points in the fourth quarter, only to lose by two
points against Ottawa-Glandorf in Ottawa on a controversial
call and the Orange and Black also won two-point contest against
Crestview, which is 8-3 on the season.